Maryland Delegate Michael Hough says he wants his fellow state lawmakers to limit their own terms so part-time legislators don't turn into career politicians.

When the Maryland General Assembly convenes in January, Hough will push to bar state lawmakers from serving more than three terms in the Senate and three in the House of Delegates. Capping length of service would shake up the "ruling class" that now controls the legislative process in Annapolis, he believes.

"They've got a machine down there, and they wield a lot of power," said Hough, R-District 3B.

Hough said his belief in term limits developed after seeing how the state Legislature operates. He noted that Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., a Democrat, has led his chamber for decades and said the seven House committee chairs have held office for a combined total of about 180 years.

These long periods in office have allowed lawmakers to get entrenched and caused them to lose touch with normal people, Hough argues. Term limits could free up lawmakers to vote with their consciences, since they wouldn't be as concerned about how displeasing powerful state leaders would affect their re-election chances, he said.

Enacting term limits would require an amendment to the Maryland Constitution, a task that Hough acknowledges will be an uphill climb. Delegate Steven Schuh, R-Anne Arundel, sponsored a similar bill in 2012, but the proposal never came out of committee.

Currently, 15 states limit the length of time a legislator can serve, with term caps ranging between six and 12 years, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Some of the states restrict consecutive terms in elected office, while other limits apply for a politician's lifetime.

Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, executive director of Common Cause Maryland, said her organization doesn't take a position for or against term limits. In some states, the practice brings fresh faces to the legislature, while in others it undermines the development of institutional knowledge. However, she said Common Cause, a group that focuses on government ethics and accountability, does recognize some of the problems Hough has raised.

"We're always concerned when we see the power stay within a small set of hands," Bevan-Dangel said.

State Sen. David Brinkley said he'd be open-minded about Hough's bill, though he agreed with Bevan-Dangel that term limits can come with their own challenges.

He said he'd be concerned that the caps would create "lame duck" terms during which legislators would feel less accountable to their constituents. Making sure voters have the final say in choosing elected leaders is of primary importance, said Brinkley, R-District 4.

Hough's term-limit proposal is part of his four-bill package focused on reforming Maryland government. The group of bills announced Monday also includes proposals to require a supermajority vote for any tax increases and provide video broadcasts for all state floor sessions and voting sessions.

Hough is also looking to beef up rules governing lobbying activity by former legislators.

After leaving the Legislature, lawmakers must observe a yearlong "cooling-off period" before they can start lobbying in the General Assembly. Hough said he wants to increase this to two years and also require one-year "cooling-off periods" for senior executive or legislative staff who leave their state jobs to become lobbyists.

He said he hopes this change would discourage lawmakers from leaving midterm to take positions with lobbying firms.

"I just think voters would disapprove of the idea that they elect people, and in the middle of their terms, they cash out and become a lobbyist," Hough said.

Bevan-Dangel said Common Cause would support this proposal.

Follow Bethany Rodgers on Twitter: @BethRodgersFNP.

(32) comments

stevem90999

I know what Hough means. It seems like Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr., has been here like forever. One guy was telling me that Barbara Mikulski (I know she's not in the state legislature but is still part of the Maryland gang of politicians) has been around since he was in college in his 20s and he is now in his 60s!! Yikes, that's a long time to be pushing her influence in Maryland's political scene, whether on the state or the federal level as one of Maryland's u.s. senators!! No wonder Maryland is in danger of collapsing like Detroit in it's liberalism if this keeps up!!

soule1061

The purpose of term limits is to prevent political machines from being built. Maryland is run by a Democrat political machine. That's why we need laws designed to kick politicians out of office before they become entrenched in their positions.

armillary

That's what voters are for. Or do you welcome others usurping your rights?

nbouqu1

we do have term limits. It's called voting. Learn to use it.

Talbot

We know how to vote but the Democrats have gerrymandered this state into oblivion, ensuring they stay in power.

skjer531

lets recall hough and the actress

Wayo44Mag

This state (and country) will always suck until we DO have term limits ! Government was NEVER intended to be a CAREER !!!

watson4sherlock

How about we only have term limits for Republicans?

stevem90999

How about we only have term limits for Democrats?

skjer531

says who?hough is a puppet of ALEC,the worst enemy of the working man

soule1061

Democrats have one-party rule in Maryland. They laugh at Republicans. This is not democracy!

watson4sherlock

Republicans have one party rule in many other states. Don't be laughed at; rent and load.

stevem90999

Yep, and those republican states are financially collapsing like the liberal state of California or the cities of Detroit, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh. LOL

stevem90999

oops, made an error:
Yep, and those republican states AREN'T financially collapsing like the liberal state of California or the cities of Detroit, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh. LOL

armillary

Hough doesn't like who's in charge
paid enough but he's not living large
term limits he's spoken
with Roscoe's streak broken
his duty's too big to discharge.

Arcticdc5

Another option is recall elections, such as what happened in CO this year. Or is MD immune to that with a "law"?

Comment deleted.
Arcticdc5

If that's what you want to call it. Sure beats sitting back and shrugging your shoulders saying "Oh well".

Talbot

We have no recall option in Maryland and you can be sure the Democrats wont let a law like that pass lest they lose power.

armillary

I'm amused by Delegate Hough's web page:
http://www.houghfordelegate.com/

public-redux

Term limits are a favorite idea amongst those who don't trust people to know their own interests. The sorts of people who think government knows better than you.

pixie-dust

Hough may as well tape a sign to his suit that reads "Ignore me, everyone else does."

dbjanda1

Prove your point and quit...Me

skjer531

then move to west Virginia with your buddy mooney mr ho

girlpolitic

Term limits are exactly what we need both on the state and county level.

skjer531

yea until the republicans get in office then its forgotten

Talbot

Like the democrats will even let it happen, they don't like to share power. One party rule, no matter the party is bad for everyone.

DebtFree

I believe Frederick County's inept politicians have provided us little to no return on our tax investment into state coffers we would be offer sending politicians to Annapolis who can collaborate with diversity.

skjer531

phony victimhood

normalperson

Good Luck on that one in Md

skjer531

term limits EEO for losers like hough- ALEC's lackey in maryland

Ballenger Creek Golfer

Term Limits = Vote the person out of office. Simple.[wink]

soule1061

Not so simple when you consider that elections are rigged to favor Democrats.

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